ATLANTA (AP) — Ryan Vogelsong provided a “real pro outing” in his first start in more than two months.
It was a rare bright spot that wasn’t enough to rescue the struggling Pirates from another loss to the lowly Braves.
Vogelsong threw six strong innings but two errors by Jung Ho Kang led to four unearned runs and Pittsburgh fell to Atlanta 5-2 on Thursday night.
The Braves, who have the majors’ worst record, won two of three for only their second home series win of the season.
The Pirates, who began the night three games behind NL wild-card leaders Los Angeles and St. Louis, have lost five of six.
The 39-year-old Vogelsong made his return after suffering facial fractures when he was hit by Jordan Lyles’ pitch in his start against Colorado on May 23. He had surgery on June 2.
Vogelsong allowed only one run in six innings and left with the game tied 1-1.
“Real pro outing,” Hurdle said. “Fun to watch. A really blue-collar performance.”
The start of the game was delayed 1 hour, 16 minutes by rain.
“It’s just typical of me that I’ve got to wait two months to pitch a game and then have a rain delay on top of that,” Vogelsong said.
Despite the delay, Vogelsong was sharp. He had six strikeouts with only one walk and allowed only three hits.
“That was great,” he said. “It felt real good.”
Felipe Rivero (0-4) walked Adonis Garcia with one out in the seventh, and Garcia moved to second on Ender Inciarte’s single. Garcia, who has only two steals this season, broke for third base as the left-handed Rivero held the ball on the mound.
Rivero finally threw to third, but Kang dropped the throw for an error, allowing Garcia to score.
Garcia said he noticed Rivero ignoring baserunners.
“I just happened to notice on his previous pitches that the pitcher was kind of just taking one look back and then settling before going into the pitch,” Garcia said through a translator.
Pirates manager Clint Hurdle said Rivero recovered in time to make a throw Kang should have handled.
Inciarte moved to second on the play and scored on Jeff Francoeur’s pinch-hit single to center field.
Another error by Kang, who whiffed on Erick Aybar’s grounder, helped the Braves score two run in the eighth.
David Freese cut Atlanta’s lead to 3-2 with a homer to right off Chris Withrow in the eighth.
Jim Johnson pitched the ninth for his seventh save in 10 chances.
Braves rookie right-hander Tyrell Jenkins allowed one run on three hits and four walks in six innings. He has at least four walks in four straight starts.
WATCHING FROM HOME PLATE
Pirates pinch-hitter John Jaso hit into a broken-bat double play in the seventh on a grounder off Hunter Cervenka (1-0). Jaso didn’t leave the batter’s box. Hurdle said Jaso thought the grounder to first was foul.
Inciarte had two hits, extending Atlanta’s longest hitting streak of the season to 15 games. Aybar has a 10-game hitting streak.
The Pirates released RHP Wilfredo Boscan, who had been on the Triple-A Indianapolis DL with a strained oblique, to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Vogelsong. Boscan was 1-1 with a 6.46 ERA in six games, including one start, with Pittsburgh this season. IF Max Moroff, who made his major league debut on Sunday, was optioned to Indianapolis to open a spot on the 25-man roster.
Pirates 2B Josh Harrison was 1-for-3 in his first appearance since leaving Sunday’s game with right leg discomfort after colliding with Milwaukee’s Keon Broxton on a play at first base. … Hurdle said C Francisco Cervelli is feeling better after being hit by a pitch, cracking his batting helmet, on Tuesday night. Cervelli grounded out as a pinch-hitter to end the game.
Pirates: Rookie RHP Jameson Taillon (2-2, 3.52) will look for his first win since June 29 at Seattle when the Pirates open a weekend series at Cincinnati on Friday night.
Braves: Rookie Joel De La Cruz (0-3, 3.80) will make his fourth start when the Braves open a road trip against Jaime Garcia and the St. Louis Cardinals.